Reetu Jain, Naseeruddin Shah, Kay Kay Menon, Atul Kulkarni, Ravi Kissen, Shweta Bhardwaj, Rajesh Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Manoj PahwaCast:
Directed by Hriday Shetty Rating: **
Squeezing in a series of events that take place over a night can make for a deliciously pacey watch. But Bollywood’s interpretation of this format hasn’t always managed the meat of the bat. While ‘Ek Chalis Ki Last Local’ had a crisp screenplay, ‘My Friend Pinto’ was an embarrassing take on Chaplin and ‘Chameli’ seemed pretentiously art house. Neither had the gritty zing of an ‘After Hours’ or the shivering tension of a ‘Rope’ and yet, it is refreshing that this one manages very well to keep you awake and interested if not anxious about the what would follow. Somewhere between overwhelming and underwhelming is a slot that is called unobjectionable and that is just where this one-night comic-thriller fits into.
Bollywood has explored themes like cops breaking bad, baddies trying to start afresh and every other one in between. Here we have some oddballs pretending to be cops in order to pull off a major heist. The gang comprises Sir (Naseeruddin Shah), an ex-English teacher, now part-time driver and full time bum, Pinto (Kay Kay Menon), a Grand Theft Auto champ who is obsessed with the ‘dukkar’ Fiat, Bobby (Atul Kulkarni), a singer-turned-pimp with a quirky conscience and Shakti (Ravi Kissen), a drug peddler who offers various adulterous services to his clients. Collectively, they make a bunch of hilarious screw-ups. Luckily, they’re not the brainless-screaming kind in Priyadarshan movies or RGV's trigger-happy troupe or even the David Dhavan punch-line maaro-ing kind. Not saying that the dialogues have been tastefully worded and there is even a scene where someone’s bum catches fire. So sophistication is not a virtue this film aspires to imbibe. What it does stand for is a reality that when things go down, you will feel as involved, irresponsible and atleast half as excited as the lead foursome and that calls for a tiny victory.
Naseeruddin Shah’s sparkling one-liners flourished with his inimitable timing is surely a league apart from the rest. Atul Kulkarni manages well in delivering his confused and vulnerable character, while Ravi Kissan’s confidence doesn’t spill over in his performance for a change.
The technical contributions rarely matter in a film like this as they can’t elevate or degrade it much. The story isn’t an ingenious one and the screenplay doesn’t pack in any surprises either. Regardless, it does deliver on the journey-feel and the film manages to create a certain amount of engagement with the lead foursome who are likeable despite their eccentric ways and crooked aspirations.
One tiny grouse: It could’ve been way tighter if the director could’ve sacrificed about 12 songs in the final cut but then that would cut down Shweta Bhardwaj’s role by 98%.
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